|Barbara Burstein (2005)|
I met Barbara and her husband, Irwin, in June, 2004, after their son, Neal Burstein, passed away of a sudden heart attack in San Diego, California. I had only been dating Neal for a few months, but was deeply in love with him. He often talked about his parents and called them in Colorado every day. When Neal passed away, I flew out to Denver to meet his parents and prepare for a "Celebration of Life" memorial service. I spent 2 days with Irwin and Barbara as I learned all the details of Neal's life and collected pictures for the memorial. I found Neal's parents to be gracious, witty, warm and generous people. From our talks and the pictures they provided, I put together a slide show for the "Celebration of Neal's Life" and organized the event with 50 of his friends and family in July, 2004. I also helped his sailing friends organize the final sail and scattering of Neal's ashes in the ocean off San Diego. Irwin and Barbara and Neal's daughter, Elizabeth, were on-board for Neal's final sail.
|Irwin and Barbara Burstein on board for their son's "final sail"|
|Barbara and Irwin on Boreas Pass road above Breckenridge, Colorado (2004)|
When I moved from San Diego to New Mexico in 2005, they drove 7 hours from Denver in a pouring rain storm to see me at my new home. In June, 2005, Barbara and Irwin joined my daughters and I for a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
|Barbara and Irwin on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta|
My daughters, Amanda and Mary, with Irwin and Barbara in Puerto Vallarta
|Our vacation resort in Puerto Vallarta|
|Barbara enjoying a nap on the beach in Puerto Vallarta|
|Barbara and Irwin outside of the Denver Art Museum|
Between 2006 and 2009, Barbara was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer's. Barbara was still her gracious warm self. But the Alzheimer's was noticeable as she began to repeat questions and experienced mild confusion. Eventually, Barbara stopped driving when she got herself lost a few times. Irwin began to worry about Barbara's care if he was incapacitated for any reason. In 2007, home health aides were hired to assist Barbara and Irwin with the household tasks and Barbara's care. A grandson in California. Matthew Burstein, came back into Barbara and Irwin's lives in 2009. Matt, along with his wife, Mary, and 8 year old son, Mark, were affectionately know as "the Three M's" to Irwin and Barbara. They came to visit from Southern California several times and brought great joy to Irwin and Barbara. Matthew offered to care for Barbara at their California home if something happened to Irwin and he was considering it along with two other options for her care. In late 2009, Irwin was diagnosed with cancer. He opted for an aggressive radiation therapy but he took a turn for the worse and passed away in March, 2010. Barbara often asked where Irwin was as she kept forgetting that he had passed away. I know she missed him very much as she began to face her illness without him.
Due to Irwin's sudden illness and death, no decision had been made about who would care for Barbara. The family elected to have Barbara get 24 hour assisted care in her own home. When I visited, there were always good care-givers keeping a careful eye on Barbara and she still could play a mean game of Scrabble. As time went by, her friends were passing away and/or moving away. Fewer and fewer visitors came to see Barbara who could no longer remember family and friends names or faces. Unfortunately, my visits to Denver became less frequent in recent years and I relied on phone calls and letters. Barbara really couldn't remember who I was anymore. I always sent her flowers on her birthday and sometimes on Mother's Day. In June of this year, I called her to tell her I was moving to a new place in Albuquerque. I know she did not remember me, but she carefully wrote down my new address and cheerfully talked with me for several minutes.
|Barbara's last birthday bouquet (January 15, 2014)|
I always felt that I owed it to her son to be there for her. Unfortunately, I was in Iowa when she passed and missed her Memorial service last Sunday. Barbara was interred alongside her husband at Rose Hill Cemetery in Denver, Colorado August 10, 2014.
Shalom, Barbara. May you rest in peace.